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  THE LOW INCOME & URBAN HOUSING BLOG  

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Program Proves Low Income Children Can Learn a 2nd Language (Even at Just 3-Years Old!)

Bi-Lingual Low Income Students

According to The Dana Foundation, a private philanthropic organization that supports brain research, researchers have shown that the bilingual brain can have better attention and task-switching capacities than the monolingual brain. In other words, learning a second language can enhance academic as well as social skills. Other researchers agree. One elementary school in the poorest ward of Washington D.C. is taking this knowledge to the next level by offering a second language to low-income students.
Kids can learn at very young age

In Ivonne Kendrick’s classroom at Houston Elementary School, 3-year olds are learning Spanish as a second language. Already they are able to sing Spanish songs, understand how to ask for a snack and when to form a line; every other day focuses on Spanish. Even for students who struggle learning proper English, the bi-lingual program is believed to be able to enhance students’ learning in English.

Proof that it works

Kendrick's class is not the first to try this approach. A similar dual-language program in North Carolina between 2007 and 2010 showed that low-income black children in these programs scored higher in reading and math than their black classmates with equal socioeconomic backgrounds who were being taught just one language.

Other cities are catching on

Similar programs are being introduced in areas such as Miami and Philadelphia in predominantly black, low-income neighborhoods. There is a growing demand for dual-language programs in D.C., with as many as five kids on the waiting for each opening. There are currently about 260 dual-language programs in the U.S. with California recently voting to approve one in their state.

The dual-language approach gives low-income children a better chance of succeeding academically, socially, and become better prepared for future careers that will demand candidates who can speak multiple languages.

For more details, visit www.hechingerreport.org/dual-language-programs-benefit-disadvantaged-black-kids-experts-say/


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